Due to the cost of living crisis, churches may see even more vulnerable people walk through their doors. Therefore it’s important to be vigilant to the signs of potential exploitation.
On Anti-Slavery Day, we launched our Make It Slavery Free campaign that calls on churches, businesses and individuals to pledge to deliver three actions to make their communities slavery-free.
Here are three suggestions for a slavery-free Christmas:
Buy ethically sourced
Across every industry in the world, criminals are forcing people to work under inhumane conditions while cutting off any means to get help. Exploitation exists in all stages of the supply chain and sadly only 29 per cent of companies in the UK know the details of their supply chains.
Whilst it can be incredibly difficult to avoid these supply chains, there are steps we can take as consumers. For example, avoid buying goods from countries that are reported to use slave labour and look out for certifications such as the FAIRTRADE® label that show commitment to fair working conditions.
Read more about avoiding dubious supply chains: The Clewer Initiative | How can you avoid dubious supply chains when…
Learn how to spot the signs
During the winter months, we see more people using night shelters. Furthermore with rising energy bills, many churches are running warm banks for people who cannot afford to heat their homes.
The people walking through our church doors to use our services are often vulnerable and could be potentially recruited by unscrupulous gangs seeking to exploit them. It is therefore vital that we all know how to spot the signs of potential exploitation.
If you are running or volunteering at a social action project this Christmas, it’s incredibly important to undertake some modern slavery and safeguarding training so that you know how to recognise, respond, record and refer instances of modern slavery. Whilst our training has finished for 2022 we have an e-learning course available on modern slavery and human trafficking.
Be vigilant to forced begging
Forced begging is growing in prevalence and particularly at this time of year. With more people out on the streets shopping, many criminal gangs see the festive season as a big opportunity to make money.
Forced begging is a horrendous form of exploitation where gangs not only exploit, threaten and abuse victims but subject them to further humiliation and degradation by forcing them to beg on the streets. In a typical scenario, victims are transported by offenders to specific locations to beg for money which is then taken by the offenders.
Read our blog on the Compassionate Communities website to learn some of the indicators of forced begging and what to do if you suspect a case of modern slavery.